Welcome to the Queensland Skeptics Association Inc.

Look forward to you joining us at the Junction Hotel, cnr Ipswich & Annerley Rd, Annerley on the last Monday of each month Feb-Nov. Do join us for dinner from 5.30pm. Guest Speaker 7pm. We treat our guest speakers to dinner together with a couple of bottles of wine to take home as well as a complimentary membership to the Australian Skeptics magazine for one year. We'd love to hear from you so do get in touch if you would like to guest speak.

Our AGM will be held at 6.45pm. Monday 24th June 2024   Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe will give a talk on Skepticism and denial: climate science and nuclear power. physics graduate, he is an Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society and former Head of the School of Science at Griffith University. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Sunshine Coast University and Flinders University. Ian has authored or co-authored 10 books, 10 Open University books, more than 50 book chapters and over 500 other publications. Books by Lowe include A Big FixReaction TimeLiving in the HothouseWhy vs Why: Nuclear PowerA Voice of Reason: Reflections on AustraliaBigger or Better? Australia's Population DebateThe Lucky Country? Reinventing Australia and Long Half-life: The Nuclear Industry in Australia.

Monday 27th May 2024 – Professor Maher Gandhi, Executive Director Mater Research & MRI-UQ (Haematologist, Princess Alexandra Hospital) will give a talk on  ‘Clinician-Scientists: how we help the evidence base for quality healthcare.’  https://www.materresearch.org.au/Researchers/Our-researchers/researcher?r=2060 

April  There will be no meeting in April due to the organisers being away.

Monday 25th March 2024 – Professor Frank Bowling BSc, PhD, MBBS, FRCPA, FFSc, FHGSA, MBA, Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne. “Do you believe in Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection?"  Prof Bowling is a clinical biochemist with specialist qualifications in Chemical Pathology and Biochemical Genetics. He was previously a Professor of Medical Biochemistry at the University of Queensland and is currently a Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne.  He is the Principal investigator in a $50M research project at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research into the proteomics of dementia and other diseases of ageing. He was Director of Pathology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and at the Westmead Children's Hospital.  He had co-authored over 70 publication on the molecular basis of disease. He holds Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees in Business, Science, and Medicine, and holds Fellowships of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australia and the Human Genetics Society of Australia. He is a retired member and strategic advisor to the National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council which regulates practice in Australia and has recently published two papers on the Clinical Utility of Pathology tests. He has been an active bushwalker and has explored most of the mountains of South East Queensland. He recently published a controversial thesis on the discovery of Cunningham’s Gap.

“Do you believe in Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection?” Most people hold an unquestionable belief in Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection as an explanation for human evolution. Arguing the topic can still be highly emotional with societal, religious, and political overtones. The theory is unquestionably held by most Universities as an adequate explanation for the evolution of all species. However, the evidence supporting Darwin’s theory is actually fairly weak. When critically examined, most of the evidence is only observational. Similarities in the genomes has been used to support the idea that different species arose by natural selection. However, more recent genomics investigations are now raising the question of other mechanisms. The question of Darwin’s natural selection is by no means settled.

 

Monday 26th February 2024 - Stan Adamson will talk on “Marketing pharmaceuticals in Australia and what the public aren’t allowed to know”. Born in Brisbane and becoming a Registered Nurse, I moved into selling pharmaceuticals when Ibuprofen was prescription only. I spent a year selling the Ill-fated weight loss drug Fenfluramine. After some training in the US, I moved into selling artificial hips and knees. When they were withdrawn from the market I went on to launch Claratyne as a prescription only medication. In 1993 I moved to the UK and began promoting a new immunosuppressant for transplant patients. This drug increased the survival rate from 50% at 12months to 90% at 5 years. I drove sales by increasing organ donor rates in the UK. From there I began selling the first bioengineered human growth hormone. I was brought out to Australia in 2000 to be the Australian Marketing Manager for HGH working with Paediatric specialists, the TGA and the PBS, trying to navigate the Government’s confused and misunderstood approval and reimbursement processes. A strict code of conduct prevents company insiders from talking to the public. As I am not employed in the industry any longer, I hope to give an entertaining and revealing perspective on an enigmatic sector of healthcare that affects us all.”   

Tuesday 28th November 2023 -  we invite you to come along to our special event at Peace Hall, 102 McDonald Rd Windsor 6.30pm featuring two speakers from USA who are coming out to guest speak at the Australian Conference in Melbourne. https://skepticon.org.au/  Peace Hall is a 5 minute walk from the Albion Railway Station.  Plenty of parking.  Entry to the hall is via Albion Rd. 

Melanie Trecek-King is the creator of Thinking Is Power - https://thinkingispower.com/  an online resource that provides engaging and accessible critical thinking content. Melanie is Associate Professor of Biology at Massasoit Community College where she teaches a general-education science course designed to equip students with empowering critical thinking, information literacy, and science literacy skills. An active speaker and consultant, Melanie loves to share her “teach skills, not facts” approach with other science educators, and to help schools and organizations meet their goals through better thinking.

Susan Gerbic, affectionately called the Wikipediatrician, is the founder of Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW), Monterey County Skeptics and is a self-proclaimed skeptical junkie. A Skeptical Inquirer contributor Gerbic is a fellow of CSI and winner of the James Randi Foundation award for 2017. In 2018, Susan founded and manages About Time a non-profit organization focusing on scientific skepticism and activism. While her particular focus has been “Grief Vampires” (psychics), her activism encompasses all areas of skepticism. You can find out more at https://www.abouttimeproject.org/

Free entry and supper served – donations appreciated though. For catering purposes, do let me know if you plan on attending. 

Monday 30th October 2023 - Guest Speaker Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox B.A., M. Phil [UQ].

Kathryn’s talk is titled “The Electromagnetic Spectrum and Contemporary Militarised and Militarise-able Technology”. Her talk is based on research undertaken during her PhD studies, where she investigated increasing military interest in the electromagnetic spectrum as an enabler of technology, a type of fires [weapon], a manoeuvre space, and a domain. She has finished her PhD, but is in the examination period.

Kathryn offers a multi-perspectival cross-disciplinary approach to her topic. She draws upon history, art history, cultural and war studies and technical research. These research lenses are also combined with creative painting practice, where Kathryn uses paint to make visible the normally invisible aspects of contemporary technology and war, for example, signals, algorithms, speed. In her talk, Kathryn will draw upon her research to discuss what the contemporary ‘theatre of war’, in network-centric world, might entail.

Kathryn has presented about her research and creative practice at various Australian and international conferences. These include, amongst others, the International Studies Association annual conference (San Francisco 2018, Toronto 2019, Montreal 2023); the Aesthetics of Drone Warfare conference, Sheffield University, UK in 2022; and at Ethics Uplift a workshop hosted by Trusted Autonomous Systems (TAS) and The University of Queensland Law School’s, Law and the Future of War Research Group (2021). Additionally, Kathryn has been interviewed for various podcasts, including the University of St. Andrews, UK, Visualising War and Peace project’s podcast (2021). Kathryn has published in Third Text (2022), and has chapters in two forthcoming edited books, both focused on airborne drones.

 

Monday 25th September 2023  -  Guest Speakers Peter Stanbrook and Simon Cole
Peter will talk on the history of calendars and their relationship to astronomy.
Calendars: Egyptian, 10 month, Roman, Julian, Gregorian
Day: Time between noon = Solar day.  time between First Point of Aries = Siderial day.   Ephemeris days. Month: Time between new moon  -- the moon has no rotation, tidally locked to orbit. Lunation.  Year: Time between solstice or equinox
Peter is a Computer Programmer who also runs an astronomy group. As a programmer he has worked in the Enterprise Resource Planning field and is an expert Technical Administrator in Ellipse by Mincom (now Hitachi Energy).  He also has experience with SAP, Oracle Financials, PeopleSoft and TechnologyOne. He has worked in Software Development, Mining, Banking, Local Government and State Government. His astronomy group is Star Gayzers, the only amateur LGBTIQ astronomy group in the world.

Simon Cole will talk on the origins of the 'week', its evolution and the ways in which technological 'improvements' could actually be holding us back. Simon is a generalist who studied Behavioural Science (psychology and sociology) at La Trobe University, Community Administration (Sth Australia Institute of Technology, Aboriginal Task Force) and then taught English language (Master of Science in Education, TESOL, Aston University) for 30 years to non-native speakers at universities in Australia, Asia and the U.K.. More than 10 years ago he turned to sustainability advocacy and is quite active in Sustainable Population Australia. He's a keen problem solver, approaching issues from both a big picture and grassroots perspective. He spends his time gardening, researching and writing for online publishing and running a sharehouse. Simon will look at the 'week', a non-astronomical feature of calendars and its social significance. He'll look at modern business issues with our Gregorian calendar that inspired attempts at reform last century, yet have been stymied by technology and religious interests. He'll describe how a 'Fixed Calendar' conversion table (based on Moses B. Cotsworth's 'International Fixed Calendar', which was adopted by Kodak for 60 years) can improve business efficiency and mitigate the outsourcing of our brains to technology.

Monday 28th August 2023  -  Guest Speaker Senator Gerard Rennick
Elected to the Senate in 2019, Senator Gerard Rennick is a dynamic Australian politician who brings a fresh perspective to the nation's political discourse.  With a strong background in business and finance, he offers a unique lens through which he approaches his role as a representative of the Liberal National Party (LNP) in the Australian Senate where he proudly serves the state of Queensland.

Senator Gerard Rennick is a born and bred Queenslander with a profound understanding of Queenslanders' perspectives and challenges.  His academic journey includes a Bachelor of Commerce, Master of Tax Law, and Master of Finance, alongside FCPA, FFin, and GAICD qualifications.  His career has spanned various industries, nations, and legal frameworks, encompassing global capital markets, international and domestic taxation, statutory reporting, and financial control.  His experience in agriculture, banking, property, mining, and media has helped him engage extensively in the Senate representing all Australians. 

He is well known in the Senate for being an energetic critical thinker, eloquent speaker, and adept problem-solver.  He strives to boost government transparency by challenging bureaucrats on false assumptions, redacted documents, and shoddy modelling through his work in Senate committees and inquiries.  His goal is to enhance government accountability using quality assurance and solid evidence. Known for his outspoken stance on economic policy, Senator Rennick has become a prominent voice for fiscal responsibility and job creation.  His passion for supporting small businesses and advocating for lower taxes has resonated with many Australians.

Monday 31st July 2023  - Guest Speaker Tony Hoad
Tony has written a little book titled “You don’t believe all that bullshit do you”. Here’s what Tony says: At 67, I’m sort of retired, having spent most of my working life in the advertising industry, initially as a copywriter and then as the creative director of a couple of ad agencies. I’ve also directed a hundred or so TV commercials — and written a draft screen play for the hell of it. Earlier in the piece I obtained a BA in Media Studies and Psychology — two areas of interest that fascinate me to this day and play into the theme of my book. This book started out life as another of my occasional essays — but somehow just kept growing. At 25,000 words it’s hardly an epic tome; more a pithy thought-provoker, I would suggest.  The book is only available as a Kindle ebook. You’ll find it at amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/aw/d/B0C2XTQNJP   Cost is US$5.95. 

Monday 26th June 2023 - Guest Speaker Greg Jorgensen. 
Greg Jorgensen recently retired as the Director of Sleep Science at The Prince Charles Hospital.  He is a Physiologist with nearly 40 years of experience in research, sleep monitoring, clinical service development and the treatment of sleep disorders. He established the first sleep investigation laboratory in Queensland and one of the first globally from very humble beginnings. He has contributed extensively to the development of sleep monitoring and sleep disorder technology now used worldwide. He has more than 20 publications in peer reviewed journals and presented widely to professional and patient organisations. His presentation is titled “Sleep - A Third of Your Life”.

It covers broad aspects of sleep including:

  • The role of sleep and how much we need
  • Stages of sleep and their characteristics
  • Neural control of sleep
  • Common sleep disorders and how they’re treated
  • The consequences of sleep deprivation
  • Sleep hygiene

Monday 29th May 2023 - Guest Speaker: Dr William Grey
Topic: The bihemispheric brain and rational belief
We have a bihemispheric brain, and it turns out (for good evolutionary reasons) that our right and left hemispheres have different ways of experiencing the world and making sense of it, and (it seems) different opinions about it. Our hemispheres have different ways of establishing truth and knowledge (different epistemologies) and different ways construing the world that we gain knowledge about (different metaphysical conceptions). Understanding these adaptively shaped cognitive structures helps to explain deviant belief systems. My views closely follow Iain McGilchrist, The Master and His Emissary (2009). McGilchrist also wrestles with philosophical issues in The Matter with Things (2021) (which consists of 1500 daunting pages in two volumes). I don't dissent from McGilchrist's neuroscience (which would be foolish and impertinent) but I do have some bones to pick with him about the philosophical upshot of his neuroscientific views.
Curriculum vitae William is an Honorary Research Associate Professor at UQ who studied philosophy at the ANU and Cambridge, and taught at UQ for 30 years before his retirement in 2012. Before moving to Brisbane Wiliam was President of Canberra Skeptics. His philosophical interests include metaphysics and environmental philosophy and he is an ACF/Al Gore Climate Project presenter. William is an anti-realist about the future, a cautious pessimist about our planetary prospects, and deeply sceptical about all so-called paranormal phenomena—as he has been in all his previous incarnations.

William's current research interest is neuroepistemology, which examines the way in which knowledge and the philosophical problems it generates can be illuminated by framing them as differences in the modes of cognitive processing of our right and left hemispheres. He is currently teaching a course 'Bihemispheric Philosophy' for the University for the 3rd Age. To get an idea of William's philosophical perspective background, see: 
https://www.academia.edu/7489753/Microbiographia_Academica
https://www.academia.edu/7489772/Vale_UQ_2012_

Monday 26th September 2022. Our Guest Speaker is Dr Neville Buch, MPHA (Qld) who is currently writing a short intellectual history of Queensland; research work done over the last decade which will be published next year. https://drnevillebuch.com/  

You can produce a biographical list and still be stupid about the history. Professional history is about using the tools of philosophy and sociology to think more intelligently about the history. The intellectual history of skepticism in Queensland has to do with the thinking of:

  1. Colonialism;
  2. Federation;
  3. Mid- Century Neo-Orthodoxy and Heresy;
  4. Nation-Building Foundationalism; and
  5. New Century Reassessments.

It is only as we grasp the education, historiography, literature, and sociology in the state of Queensland, there is a fair and initial understanding of Australian intellectual histories. The talk will explore variations in skepticism and the history in the Queensland. 

Monday 29th August 2022  We welcome Jane O'Sullivan who will give a talk on Where does Population fit in the Climate Change response? 
Many people have argued that linking population to climate change merely deflects attention from the high-emissions behaviours of affluent people. While fully acknowledging the importance and urgency of lowering emissions per person, this presentation will explain the many compelling reasons for including population in both Australia’s and the global response to climate change. It argues that sufficient greenhouse gas emissions can't be achieved unless efforts to minimise population growth are elevated. The presentation is based on a discussion paper, Population and Climate Change, co-authored by Ian Lowe, Jane O'Sullivan and Peter Cook and published by Sustainable Population Australia.

 

Monday 25th July 2022.  We welcome Dr Martin Gellender who will give a talk on Exploration and colonisation of other planets by humans. Marty has always been fascinated by science. In his native New York, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, worked for a pharmaceutical company, and did a PhD (City University of New York). He moved to Canada, where he worked as a science writer for a chemical engineering magazine (and married an Aussie), and then moved to England to start a new chemistry magazine. In 1982, he relocated to Brisbane and spent most of his career in the Queensland Government, managing an Energy Information Centre and then a grants program to fund companies developing energy-efficient technology. Since retiring in 2012, Marty has taught a course “Science and the Big Issues of Our Time” at the University of the Third Age, and has been a Brisbane Greeter. 

Fifty years ago this December, NASA astronaut Gene Cernan climbed from the surface of the moon into the Apollo 17 spacecraft for its return to Earth. Cernan and pilot Harrison Schmidt had spent 12-1/2 days on the moon, the longest of the six missions that successfully landed on the moon. Cernan was one of only 12 men who had walked on the moon. He didn’t know at the time that he would be the last human to stand on the moon for a half century. Since that time, advances in computer technology have enabled robot missions to be sent into deep space. These missions have been phenomenally successful, providing detailed photographs of planets in our solar system, as well as many of the moons and asteroids. Unmanned rover vehicles are travelling across the surface of the moon and Mars, taking photographs and analysing rocks. Unmanned missions to the outer solar system have travelled billions of kilometres on missions that have lasted years. The Voyager space probes are still communicating with Earth after travelling 45 years and 23 billion kilometres (60,000 times further than the moon). Unmanned robotic missions appear to be far better, cheaper and safer than manned missions to explore our solar system. But this is not the way that the future of space exploration is going. In only a few years, Gene Cernan will no longer be “the last man on the moon”. US space agency NASA is collaborating with the European and Canadian space agencies to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024 through its Artemis mission. This will likely involve many manned exploration visits, and maybe a semi-permanent base. But the Artemis program is viewed as a warm-up or “dress rehearsal” for future missions to Mars, which is much further away. A Mars mission will be much more difficult and dangerous, and require two years for a return journey. Meanwhile, China has been rapidly developing its capabilities in space. China’s Manned Space Agency is developing launch vehicles and spacecraft capable of sending astronauts to the moon. China has announced its intention to beat the US to Mars, with a crewed mission by 2033. Other countries are developing the capability to launch space missions and could join the US-led or Chinese programs to send astronauts to Mars. Some private companies are launching their own space satellites, and some are talking about mining asteroids. Will this lead to permanent human settlements, and colonisation, of the moon, Mars and beyond? Could this save the human race from climate change, environmental destruction or nuclear war? Or, is the race to colonise space an expensive folly driven by super-power rivalry and national hubris?

 

Monday 30th May 2022. We welcome Margie Milgate as our guest speaker. Am sure a lot of you have heard the term “Regenerative Agriculture” but don’t exactly know what it is. Growing up on a wool and wheat mixed farm near Gulargambone in Central NSW, Margie has always had an keen interest in agriculture. To increase her learning Margie attended Orange Agriculture College and has done further studies at UQ where she completed a major research project on biological farming practices. She has watched this space ever since and is keen to share her observations on the growth of the regenerative agriculture movement. Margie’s had an interesting career … past lives include SEQCMA Chair and Healthy Land and Water Director, Brisbane Catchments Network President.

Traditional agriculture uses the sciences of chemistry and physics to undertake soil analysis to prescribe the particular nutrients required by grazing lands for pasture growth and for cultivated crops to grow to their market potential. Much research is undertaken to fine tune these additives and also to undertake genetic and field research to fight off any pests and diseases, as well as using practices such as fallow and ploughing to get soils ready for the next crop. Regenerative agriculture takes another approach. Regenerative agriculture is defined by a body known as Regeneration International in a discussion paper in 2017 as “a holistic land management practice that leverages the power of photosynthesis in plants to close the carbon cycle and build soil health, crop resilience and nutrient density”.

Do join us for dinner at the Junction Hotel, cnr Ipswich & Annerley Rd, Annerley at 6pm. Speaker will start at 7.30 pm. Members $3.00 entry - Visitors $5.00. Visitors need to check due to limitations on hall numbers. Membership is $10.00 pp per year. 

Thursday 10th June 2021  There is no meeting tonight due to a technical issue.

Thursday 13th May 2021  Guest Speaker Professor Peter M. Gresshoff 

Peter M. Gresshoff, Emeritus Professor, Plant Molecular Genetics, Integrative Legume Research Group, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Discussion Topic: 
We look only at what is in front of our eyes…. or on Facebook or in gossip

I want to venture out into how we, as human or members of Skeptics, make decisions on broader scientific facts. Amazingly we are very primitive. We pretend to be sceptical, but are we??? We listen to news networks (often motivated by viewer numbers and thus profit), “social media’, and even just gossip picked up in the pub, over dinner or on the train. Even documentaries on SBS or analytical articles are prepared with an audience in mind; appeal is a major governing force. I will give some examples, where we ‘know’ the general story, but when one looks deeper, we are just making up intermediate solutions. Well, that is even the way of Science…I myself am guilty of it; one tried to approximate, based on present-day knowledge and data, and hopes that these ‘hypotheses’ grow into established theories overtime.

I will use the following examples:

1)         COVID-19 mortality data (very topical!!!) : dying from or with the virus?

2)         Animal and plant genome (= genetic material and more) size and function

3)         Size of the Universe (galaxies, stars, dark matter, gravity)

The presentation will try to be not too ‘heavy’; indeed I am an expert in this for only one third of the topics! And it’s Thursday night and after dinner!!!

Members $3.00  Visitors  $5.00.  Visitors must book in with me as numbers are limited.

Please join us for dinner at The Albion Hotel, 300 Sandgate Rd which is not that far away so perhaps we could meet there for dinner at 5.30pm as we need to be back at Peace Hall by 7pm for set-up.  Let me know if you are joining us for dinner so I can give numbers to the hotel.  Parking on site at the hotel is free but you need to register your vehicle with the desk and also check in.  If you don’t already have a QR code on your mobile phone, download this App onto your phone:  https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/check-in-qld

Meeting Venue: Peace Hall, Albion Road, Windsor (cnr McDonald Rd)  UBD Map 140 C15  Please arrive around 7pm for 7.30pm start.

There are three ways – you choose!  
1. Albion Railway Station is a few minutes walk away.
2. From Lutwyche Road  –  turn left or right into Albion Road. Just before McDonald Rd, you’ll see the hall on the right. Turn right into the long concrete driveway and park alongside the hall.
3. From Sandgate Road turn either right/left into Albion Road and after going over the overpass turn:  Left into Lane Street, Left into Blackmore, Left into McDonald Road, Left into Albion Rd and left into the 1st driveway. There is also off street parking in McDonald Rd opposite the hall.  Print this out and take it with you as you may need it!
Look forward to seeing you and print this off to find your way!!

Thursday 8th April 2021   Our next guest speaker is Dr Katie Hail-Jares, PhD, who is a lecturer at Griffith University's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. She has written and published extensively on wrongful convictions, sex work, drug use and youth homelessness.  Her talk is entitled: False Rape Allegations and the Innocent Man. 

For the past month, Australia's federal government has been embroiled in a number of sexual assault scandals involving. As more of these allegations are made, the men that they are made against have been coming out to publicly establish their innocence. The implicit suggestion of such press conferences is that moving forward with these investigations could lead to the conviction of an innocent person. But how likely is that to happen? What role do false rape allegations play in wrongful convictions? Using a dataset from the United States, Dr Katie Hail-Jares explored the role of false rape allegations in 207 sexual assault cases that ended in either the indictment or conviction of an innocent person. She found that false rape allegations present in less than five-percent of all cases. And that in statistical modelling, a case that stemmed from a false rape allegations was ten times less likely to end in a conviction.  The resulting paper was published last year in Justice Quarterly, one of the top ranked criminology journals in the field, and has been downloaded over 1,300 times.   Dr Hail-Jares will discuss these results, their application to the current scandal and the present new data on whether the same method can be applied to Australian cases.

Members $3.00  Visitors  $5.00.  Visitors must book in with me as numbers are limited.

Please join us for dinner at The Albion Hotel, 300 Sandgate Rd which is not that far away so perhaps we could meet there for dinner at 5.30pm as we need to be back at Peace Hall by 7pm for set-up.  Let me know if you are joining us for dinner so I can give numbers to the hotel.  Parking on site at the hotel is free but you need to register your vehicle with the desk and also check in.  If you don’t already have a QR code on your mobile phone, download this App onto your phone:  https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/check-in-qld 

 

Thursday 11th March 2021  Our next Guest Speaker is Dr Andrew Houston who is a retired GP. He makes the point that religious experience consists of a number of play phenomena.  The word  Delusion derives from two Latin words De meaning "from" and Ludere meaning "to play”. He will demonstrate that the Trinity and Death and Resurrection are Play and that, just as children who talk to an imaginary friend are playing, so adults who talk to God are also playing.

Members $3.00  Visitors  $5.00.  Visitors must book in with me as numbers are limited.

Please join us for dinner at The Albion Hotel, 300 Sandgate Rd which is not that far away so perhaps we could meet there for dinner at 5.30pm as we need to be back at Peace Hall by 7pm for set-up.  Let me know if you are joining us for dinner so I can give numbers to the hotel.  Parking on site at the hotel is free but you need to register your vehicle with the desk and also check in.  If you don’t already have a QR code on your mobile phone, download this App onto your phone:  https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/check-in-qld 

 

Thursday 11th February 2021 Our guest speaker for February is Michael Gutteridge – details below:

I am an Environmental and Political Scientist. I worked for the Department of Natural Resources in the Queensland Government, with my final position being a Senior Scientist in Climate Impacts and Natural Resource Systems. I have worked as a private consultant, editor and writer in the field of Environmental and Social Science. I have lectured at Queensland University of Technology in Sustainability and Land Stewardship. I was recently contracted to write a series of papers on future risk for Queensland Rangelands (http://rangelandsqld.org.au/background-reading/), with a particular focus on future risk, climate change and food security. It was my intention to give a talk to the Sceptics Society that stitched together the various themes that I have worked on over the past decades to create a picture of possible futures for the following few decades. Most biophysical science (or social and economic science) is quite narrowly focused, or is not extended to ask what the findings really mean for humanity. Furthermore, most people accept that there will be climate change, or population pressures, continued habitat destruction, future economic crisis, or even armed conflict. It is just a continuation of history. However, many do not stop to ask what are the consequences when you have so many more people, far greater climate shift, far more lethal weaponry, far more integrated and fragile economies, on a less healthy and resilient planet/ecosystems, and the potential for many or all of the above events to happen simultaneously. When the current state of the world is assessed, and the momentum toward particular futures is taken into account, it is hard to argue that the earth will be supporting 8-10 billion people, indeed it may only support 1-2 billion people within 1-2 generations. In fact there are quite plausible scenarios where there will be no people remaining within a century or two, and this does not require a nuclear war.  Economist, politicians, optimists, and basically anybody who by the necessity for sanity engages in motivated reasoning, will tell you that human ingenuity will solve future problems. The point is though, that human ingenuity has not solved the underlaying problems up to this point, in fact it is accelerating humanity toward the abyss, whilst providing the illusion that life and security is improving; I call this the Doomsday Paradox. There is a solution, but no one want to hear it or believe it. Indeed, as a species we would rather flirt with extinction than make the world a better place for ourselves, our descendants, and for all other species. Some have postulated that it is in fact our intelligence that makes us so stupid. I would argue something a little different, it is elite power that is to blame, always has been, and until elitism is purged from human societies, the whole society remains at risk. And whilst the current structure of elitism exists, efforts to avoid existential crisis for humanity, or large portions of humanity, remains, irrespective of all other government policies and community activities. Some argue that incremental long-wave change is occurring (although the evidence suggests the contrary), however, change is required immediately to avoid catastrophe. Will this change happen within 1 year or 10 or 50, all evidence suggests not, hence, we are in a very bad situation.  

 

Monday 30th March 2020   -   MEETING CANCELLED.  I am cancelling the March meeting of the Qld Skeptics for the following reasons:  It would appear that Covid-19 sufferers can transmit the disease before they show any symptoms. In the confined space of our meeting room, any cough would disseminate widely. Our venue being a popular meeting public space is at greater risk of having a sufferer accidentally infect the premises. Our members have a greater risk as many of us are in the older demographic with greater risk of complications.  Regards  Robert Backhouse, President.

Monday 24th February 2020  -  Alison Courtice is spokesperson for Queensland Parents for Secular State Schools a grassroots movement of parents who believe Queensland state schools need to be inclusive and welcoming places for all children, regardless of their religion, race or culture. We believe that the current provision of Religious Instruction (RI) in state schools, for which children are segregated according to their religion, does not foster the inclusiveness and respect for diversity needed in our multi-faith and multicultural society. In addition, we believe that requiring chaplains to profess a religious belief in order to provide a supporting role to state school students contradicts the Education Department’s own policy of respecting “the background and beliefs of all students and staff by not promoting, or being perceived as promoting, any particular set of beliefs in preference to another.

Monday 25th November 2019  Dr Peter Ellerton - Critical Thinking. One of the most critical concerns about critical thinking is how it can be taught. There are a number of people who claim that critical thinking skills are not transferable. These same people claim that because of this it is difficult to teach critical thinking. This view ignores a very large body of research and practice that shows critical thinking can be taught and that it has benefits in terms of cognitive gains that extend for years beyond training. In this talk, I will outline how critical thinking can be taught, why it is a transferable skill and how we can improve the educational experience for students in terms of teaching thinking.  

Peter Ellerton is a lecturer in Critical Thinking at the University of Queensland and is the founding Director of the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project. He is a former Head of Experimental Sciences at the Queensland Academy of Science, Mathematics and Technology. Peter is also an advisor to the International Baccalaureate Organisation on the development of the new Nature of Science subject and has advised on the structure of all the new science syllabus materials. Peter is currently working with the European Commission Joint research Centre on the public understanding of science.  Peter is a Queensland Curriclum And Assessment Authority syllabus writer and Chief Examiner for External Physics in Queensland

Monday 28th October 2019 Adj Assoc Prof. Geraldine Moses BPharm DClinPharm Adv.Prac.Pharm  will give a talk on Compounding Pharmacies.

Dr Geraldine Moses is a hospital pharmacist specialised in medicines information. She holds a Doctorate in Clinical Pharmacy and works part-time at the Mater Public Hospital in Brisbane, holds the position of Adjunct Associate Professor in the University of Queensland’s School of Pharmacy, and provides a national drug information and advisory service for the Australian Dental Association (ADA) called “Pharma-Advice”. She consults to organisations such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, NPS MedicineWise, and the New Zealand Dental Association. Geraldine has received many honours and awards including the Pharmaceutical Society’s Pharmacist of the Year in 2002 and the Dental Association’s Award of Merit in 2013. She was recognised in 2019 Australia Day awards as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to medicine and the community as a pharmacist, through her advisory and educational roles.

Monday 30th September 2019 - Guest Speaker Professor John Quiggin, VC Senior Research Fellow, School of Economics, University of Queensland. 

Zombie Economics - Why did economists get the Global Financial Crisis so wrong, and have they learned anything since? John Quiggin will describe the life cycle of the economic ideas that led to the crisis from birth to their death in the GFC and their resurrection in zombie form over the last decade. Copies of John's two books will be for sale: Zombie Economics for $35, and Economics in Two Lessons for $30.

Monday 26th August 2019  Guest Speaker Greg Cudmore - The Elephants in Our Classrooms

We will endeavour to myth-bust some common myths surrounding our education system. After retiring in 2014 after 45 years at the chalk face, I have been enjoying the freedom to indulge in my first love which is writing.  I have written two books: The Elephants in Our Classrooms and To Alpha From Omega. Both available as paperback or kindle books on amazon.com. I am a columnist in an Australia-wide educational magazine.  I also teach courses at U3A Brisbane and Redlands, including a popular Mythbusters course which exposes many prevalent myths in our society. In  many ways a skeptic is a mythbuster and I am hoping my presentation will strike a familiar chord with your group. Both books will be for sale on the night for $15.00 each. 

Monday 29th July 2019 Guest Speaker Andrew Perry - The Challenges of Tackling Australian and Global Carbon Emissions

At 22 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, Australia has the highest per capita emission footprint of The West. Despite this, Australia easily beat its first Kyoto target without having to take any action on fossil fuel efficiency or consumption mix. But even with reductions in some jurisdictions, there has been no discernible effect on the exponential rise of global emissions over the Kyoto Protocol years. This talk explains why, and examines the significant engineering and political challenges we face to make any impact on both local and global emissions.

Bio: Andrew Perry (CEng  MIChemE  RPEQ) is a chartered chemical engineer with extensive experience in both the upstream and downstream petroleum industries. He recently published the book ‘The Carbon Collision Course: Australia’s Emissions and Energy Policy Crisis’. This independent work explains the facts about energy consumption, industrial activity and emissions without bias. It provides a new perspective on the global emissions debate. The book will be available for sale on the night for $25.00 cash. 

 

Monday 24th June 2019  Guest Speaker Phil Ormerod - Consultant Well Engineer

 "How oil and gas wells are drilled / A working life spent drilling for oil & gas around the world …. or what the degree course doesn't teach you about the oil patch". 

Bio: Phil has worked in the drilling and completions domain both in field supervisory roles and office based engineering assignments including onshore and offshore projects in North Africa, West Africa, the Middle East and SE Asia. During his career he has been involved in the planning and execution of exploration drilling campaigns, development drilling projects, workovers and interventions including stimulation treatments and artificial lift installations and well testing operations.

Sunday 9th June 2019 Skepticamp is happening again this year at The Sideshow, 349 Montague Rd West End 10am - 5pm. Entry by donation. This is a free event where members of our community (you!) get to present whatever topic you are passionate about. More info coming up on how to register to speak. Register here to attend:  https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/skepticamp-2019-tickets-60661983626

Monday 27th May 2019 - Cane Toad Challenge by Professor Rob Capon

This presentation provides a brief account of the discovery, development and science behind an innovative cane toad tadpole trapping technology that uses a natural toad pheromone to lure toad tadpoles into a trap. It also provides an account of the Cane Toad Challenge, a community engagement and citizen science initiative dedicated to making this technology freely available to the public, as well as volunteer and community groups, businesses, and local, state and federal government agencies.

Bio: Rob Capon is a Professorial Research Fellow and Group Leader at the University of Queensland, Institute for Molecular Bioscience. An organic chemist, Rob leads a multidisciplinary research team that specializes in the study of chemicals found in Nature. The aim of this research is to detect, isolate and identify valuable chemicals, to understand how and why they are made, to better understand of their influence on living systems, to inspire solutions for important scientific and societal challenges. Key challenges include new pharmaceutics for infectious and neurodegenerative diseases, pain and cancer, new agrochemicals to treat livestock and crop infections and new natural solutions for pest control and environmental protection.

Monday 29th April 2019  -  Military Hits and Myths by Win Fowles

Military history is written by the winners but does not necessarily cover the loser’s hits and the winner’s misses, or either side’s myths.  Win Fowles will present unusual or little-known cases, some serious and some humorous.

Bio:  Colonel Win Fowles (Retired).  Born in Sydney and raised in Sydney, Brisbane and Mooloolaba, Win graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in 1966. He served in most Australian states as well as the UK, the US and South Vietnam.  His final full time military appointment before a civilian career was Director of Movement & Transport – Army.  Win is also a graduate of the Royal Military College of Science (UK), the US Army Logistic Management College (where he was later a faculty member) and the Australian Staff College. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport, and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

Monday 25th March 2019

Guest speaker Dr. Jane O'Sullivan of Sustainable Population Australia will debunk the Ageing Crisis, and explain why we should welcome an ageing society. 

Daily, we are bombarded with news items decrying the ageing of our population. Yet this should be a welcome development, as the culmination of modern progress to ensure that most people born lead long and healthy lives. Instead, it is treated as a calamity which must be redressed by aggressive increases in population growth, through either births or immigration. The claimed problems of ageing (including a shrinking workforce, a ballooning pension bill, and skyrocketing health and aged care needs) are poorly supported in evidence, and the cure is much worse than the disease. This talk will unpack some of the myths and truths about demographic ageing and discuss the benefits of declining populations containing more older people.

Bio:
Dr. Jane O’Sullivan is a former senior researcher at the University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, where she led research programs on agricultural intensification of subsistence crops in the Pacific and South East Asia. She subsequently turned attention to the demographic pressures on food security, economic development and environmental sustainability. She has published ground-breaking work on the economic impacts of population growth, population aging and the use of population projections in relation to projecting climate change. She is an executive member of Sustainable Population Australia and has represented that organisation at United Nations climate change meetings.

 

Monday 25th February 2019 Our guest speakers are members Julie & Harald Berents who will give a talk on Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia (GSoW)

Julie and Harald are members of the GSoW team. They will describe the work the team does, the work they each do, why they do it and how they benefit as individuals. The Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia (GSoW) editing team aims to improve content on Wikipedia. We do this by writing or improving skepticism and science related articles, as well as the biographical articles of notable people involved in science, medicine and the skeptical movement. We add valid material and citations, and remove unsourced claims from paranormal and pseudo-scientific related articles. Wikipedia is the 4th most visited website in the English-speaking world behind Google, YouTube, and Facebook. As both Google and YouTube point their users to Wikipedia, valid, evidence-based information is absolutely critical. GSoW is an international team of 100+ volunteers working in many languages.

Sunday 10th Feb 2019 - Celebrating Darwin Day with the Gold Coast Skeptics.

Venue: Parkwood Tavern – cnr Olsen Ave & Wintergreen Dr, Parkwood (Kids eat free on a Sunday) https://www.parkwoodtavern.com.au/

3.30 - 5.00pm mingle

5.00 - 5.30pm Mr Jake Clark PhD Candidate, Centre for Astrophysics

Topic: exoplanets/astrobiology 101 https://theconversation.com/profiles/jake-clark-391989/articles

5.30 - 6pm Dr Renaud Joannes-Boyau (PhD), SCU EMCR representative, Australian Academy of Science, School Director HDR Southern cross GeoScience, Head of Geoarchaeology and Archaeometry Research Group (GARG) Topic: New findings in human evolution

6.00 – 6.30pm Q&A

6.30 – 7.00pm Wrap up

 

Flexihostings

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